BHUJ, India -- Kusumben Myacha lay for three days pinned under a massive chunk of cement, without food or water, drifting in and out of sleep. She prayed to her Hindu gods to be saved.
No one heard her screams until the stillness of the second night. At daybreak, rescuers began a frantic race to dig her out from under the rubble of the collapsed seven-story apartment building.
Myacha, a 40-year-old mother of two, was pulled free on Sunday as night fell. People wept as they saw her emerge. She had survived buried longer than anyone so far from Friday's devastating earthquake in western India.
But the tales of dramatic rescues have become fewer as hopes faded Monday of finding any more people alive after three cold nights. By official count, the 7.9 magnitude quake had killed 6,287 people in the industrial state of Gujarat, and the state's chief minister, Keshubhai Patel, said the toll could go as high as 20,000.
Tremors lasting up to 30 seconds continued to shake India on Monday panicking residents, but no new damage was reported beyond minor cracks in buildings. A magnitude 4.3 quake at 8:08 a.m. was centered 21 miles from Bangalore, a city 850 miles southeast of the epicenter of Friday's quake near Bhuj. Authorities there closed schools and colleges after the temblor.
Survivors on Monday complained that confusion and a lack of equipment was hampering search efforts. Rescuers lacked cranes, bulldozers and generators for lights, making night work impossible.
Clearly overwhelmed by the disaster, the government said Sunday it would ask for a $1.5 billion loan from the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank for reconstruction.
The United States on Sunday announced it would donate $5 million to the rescue efforts. In neighboring Pakistan, army ruler Gen. Pervez Musharraf, told the state-run news agency that India, its longtime rival, had refused an offer of Pakistani aid. As many as 18 people died in the quake in Pakistan.
Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee on Monday toured earthquake-ravaged Gujarat state, visiting a destroyed village, a military hospital and a collapsed apartment building.
As Vajpayee visited the Bhuj Military Hospital, doctors performed abdominal surgery on a 4-year-old child pulled from the rubble Sunday.
"I'm here to express my solidarity with the Indian people," Vajpayee said in brief remarks. "They are not alone in this. There are plans being drafted for rehabilitation and reconstruction of this area."
Residents in Bhuj bemoaned the lack of equipment that would have allowed round-the-clock rescue.
"They work from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. only. This is emergency duty. They should work round the clock," said Pradeep Sheth, 46, who was rescued from under the rubble after seven hours. His wife, mother and two daughters were still trapped in the debris.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.